Earlier this year I started doing this Thing:

I write a poem using three words each submitted by my friends, family, community, and now, from you. It’s been a source of comfort, empowerment, hope, and understanding, especially during the isolation of the Covid pandemic and the turmoil of America’s race wars.

These poems have helped put words to what we’re all experiencing, have provided comfort, and connected strangers. A bright spot in these days.

Shared Poems

Love in Embrace

Why Mama? I don’t know
what death is. But birth

is the womb of the ocean
breathing over the lands.

We were all abandoned
by a mother who could not

shelter us forever in her
arms. Her children grew,

butterflies in her stomach,
somersaulting to sounds of jazz

played on the piano. Pictures
showed them white on a black screen.

For a summer, there was nothing
but the overwhelm of trying

to prepare for a better life than she had.
How could she share what she couldn’t

see? The more time she spent on this path
the harder to focus when she looked up.

Lean in too far and she would not be
rescued from her own imbalance.

There would be no more vacation.
Days would no longer be light and breezy.

And so, with a sigh she released us
and put her palm to our backs.

In this singular calm
she kissed our head like a postmark.

“Come back to me. I will listen for you.
You will know it is me by the heat of my blood.

And I will come like a blaze
against your tormentor. And I will paint

the sky and the streets ebony.”
Your name will be Truth.

I’m Not Relaxing While It’s Sunny

The pain is

slow, nesting. 
Each day starts overcast 
by intense sunshine,

spring inspiring 
gratitude and grief. Distracted, 
by the zoom of a curve—

a cancer frustrating 
the lungs overwhelmed 
by pomegranate seeds

to balls of snow. It does not 
survive the hot, they say.

Each day wakening 
to a curious family— 
I am the new housekeeper.

Productive parenting 
looks like a hectic jackrabbit: 
Shredding travel plans to Lany.

the dog with lemon bars. Laundry. 
Create my own masala with spices we have on hand.

the kids in loving, laughter. 
The tiny moments

are most enlightening: 
I’m thankful for a paperclip, 
accomplishing what I cannot—

it all together. Shamed, 
I drink whiskey from the moonshine.

By evening, 
I am tired already 
from the early worry of tomorrow.


To view this poem, you must be a member of my Patreon.

If you’re already a patron—thank you! You can view this poem on Patreon.

I will occasionally offer these poetry challenges for free to my patrons and newsletter subscribers.

Other Poems

We Are the Class of 2020

We are not the class of pomp and circumstance.
We are not the class of normal.
We are not the class of grandparents at our graduation.
We are not the class of prom and sports practice.
We are not the class of state championships.
We are not the class of debate tournaments.
We are not the class of silly nights out or long bus trips home.
We are not the class of passing notes in classrooms.
We are not the class of frivolousness.
We are not the class of innocent kisses.
We are not the class of long frolicking days of summer.

Will we even have a summer?

No, we are not the class of pomp and circumstance.
We are the class that broke the pandemic.
We are the class of peaceful protests.
We are the class that altered the election and toppled the power structure.
We are the class that watched our nation burn.
We are the class that raised our fists.
We are the class that said, Enough!
We are the class that survived.
We are the class that washed our hands, and cleaned the sky.
We are the class of hindsight, foresight, and renewed sight.

We are the Class of 2020.

Our Alliterative Selves

Me and Matt Mabry, Matt Mabry and me, made
what-ifs of Walt Whitman, and whatchamacallthese.
We wrote writs and wagged wits and waged wars.
Today, to this day, it’s too tough to think of
him. How is he, His happenings. How happy is he?
He’s hung his hat and hardened his heart
for the fun of it. For fear, from _______, to be free.
Possibly he’s playing the piano, pounding at the porcelain
keys. Kicking the Kabbala. Killing. In Kosovo?
Could be crying. Could be cringing. Catch me
looking. Leering into layers of the labyrinth.
Losing life. Living loss. Loving Lesbians.
Sweetly spinning, sickeningly spiraling, swapping
revolutions. Ready to resolve what’s ripping us.
Reaping what’s been retched by Republicans.
Democracy’s dying, and dear darlings
gnashing and gnarring. Getting gnarled in the
great giant city of Gaddafi’s.
Matt Mabry, Matt Mabry, what do you make of me?
All these annals after, I’m asking about
you. Yearning the yearner. Yet you’ll
never know how I’m needlessly kneading my knuckles,
forgetting I’m forgotten—fact or fiction?—
formidably forgiving my foes.
Me and Matt Mabry, Matt Mabry and me, made
holes in the hollows, and halves out of the holes.
Have you had your humility? How have you

[Note: I wrote this poem years ago about a college friend who, in my life, had disappeared. I tried to find him, looked him up online, nothing. Until, a few months after I read this at my first poetry reading, a mutual friend messaged me that Matt had died, shot, not too far from where, apparently, we both now lived, in the Pacific Northwest. The poem is still in process, as much art and writing are….]